Saturday, July 01, 2006

Half time analysis

As last year, we're now halfway through 2006, so here's the five best albums of the year so far, all full UK releases (so no Anathallo) of new material (no McLusky). It really does get difficult to follow all this carefully in this age of releases leaked long in advance, doesn't it?

The more time goes by, the more it sounds less like the ghosts of Spector and Webb and more like inspiration was taken from St Etienne and Glen Campbell. Helpfully, Tracyanne Campbell has now found her voice, both audibly and, in a way that takes them away from their previous Belle & Sebastian Lite box, structurally.

A lot of people have been down on this album of late - we've heard Norah Jones' name bandied about in connection - but the reason why this could never be filed under MOR is provided by the clue in the question. Chan Marshall, still wracked with her demons to an extent, turned them into full room confessionals rather than lock them away in a small dark room as had often sounded before.

It's going to be fun watching many of the class of 2003-05 fall at the second album hurdle. The Futureheads didn't, but not through a massive change of style as many claimed but by a change of emphasis, winding down the frantic elements and adding spacial awareness, precise and full of intrigue. They're sticking around.

Only seven tracks, but every one full of ideas and ideology. Much has been made of their historical contexts, and no wonder when it allows them to create a historical perspective of their own, unleashing the post-rock/post-Radiohead monsters within and writing at times like GY!BE might if they became a lyrically focused outfit.

Fair to say Miller, Conley and Prescott won't be taking to the acoustic town hall circuit any time soon. If anything more abrasive then their 2003 comeback album ONoffON, the intensity and inventiveness of the playing belies the special relationship that dates back more than twenty-five years. People literally half their ages and younger would kill to sound this forceful.

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